Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Indiana James

From the age of about five until age seven or so, I helped raise a young Indiana Jones.
We didn't realize that our dear son Jamie was becoming Indiana Jones because for two years prior, he was Buzz Lightyear. He spent much of his time leaping off of furniture and high places with the battle cry of "To Infinity and Beyond!" It was a fun but kind of alarming habit if you weren't used to it. 

But then our James was introduced to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, left Buzz behind and embraced his new persona with complete admiration and devotion.
Indiana Jones was EXACTLY the person who he wanted to be. Adventurer, explorer, snake fighter who could rock either the bow tie or the fedora, but never both at once. He wore his fedora daily, even in the summer when a wool hat brings on a whole new meaning to sweaty head.
He insisted on wearing it to school.  He would hang it up carefully in his cubby, and convinced himself that even Indiana Jones went to kindergarten and got involved with stuff like snack and sharing time.

Indy was very cool and also a little suspicious, and so was Jamie.
He moved with his own soundtrack and entered every room singing a hearty "dum da dum daaaa"
the exciting instrumental beginning of the Indiana Jones theme song.

Jamie conducted himself by asking himself (and sometimes his friends) "what would Indy do?"
Then, he would answer that call, which usually meant singing the theme song, leaping from someplace high, tackling your brother and then running away.
For some reason this lifestyle often involved Sam the guinea pig playing the part of the cobras in the snake pit.
Doesn't Sam look much like a venomous snake?

Once I was reading a People magazine (don't judge) saw a photo of Harrison Ford leaving a Hollywood restaurant and shared it with Jamie. Jamie was amazed that his very own personal hero was hanging out and living his life in Southern California.
He decided to send a photo of himself to Harrison Ford/Indiana Jones and write him a letter.

This is his favorite photo.... 
Indiana James and his trusty schnoodle.

He signed the back of the photo and wrote a letter asking Indiana Jones to please sign a photo of himself and send it back to Jamie.
He was sure that Harrison Ford/Indiana Jones would immediately identify kinship in Jamie G. and write him back. This didn't exactly happen and Jamie was disappointed. He would rifle through the mail everyday after school for months and was in disbelief that Indiana Jones didn't write back. He was sure that his letter had gotten lost or that his lame mother had sent it to the wrong address and I got kind of annoyed with Mr. Ford for making me look bad.

As he continued to blame me for Harrison/Indy not answering his letter, I considered sending Jamie a forged note from his hero, but never did, for ethical reasons, I guess. 

The fedora grew too snug to be comfortable and Jamie moved on.

So imagine my surprise when a week ago, about two and a half years later,  a plain brown envelope with two signed photos shows up in our mailbox. 
No enclosed note, no return address... just two autographed photos in a mysterious envelope from Los Angeles, CA. 
Jamie was thrilled, the hero of his youth had come through at last!

Thank you Harrison Ford.
But thanks especially to whoever it was in Mr. Ford's publicist's office who found Jamie's two and a half year old letter, and then thought to reply to it. Jamie's faith in his hero is restored and best of all, he considers his mom a little bit more capable in handling his mail.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Seven Years of Henry.

Henry is now SEVEN!
His favorite birthday presents include...
1) a cool and sporty sweatband
2) an awesome secret agent set
However, our little H-Bomb is missing is top two choppers and as a result has developed a (pretty darn cute) speech impediment.
so...his most favorite gifts are...
"a shweat-band, and an awshome secret ashain set"

He chose to wear his new and now very sweaty sweatband for the remainder of the day, including while he was playing with his new stuff.  As you can guess, it's most helpful to keep the sweat out of your eyes while you are setting up your awesome secret Asians.

Cool, fun photo by Mary K.

Sparkler birthday candles can add a bit of danger and excitement to any penguin cake.
Happy happy birthday dear Henry!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday at 7:43 am.

My younger wombats at 7:43 am this morning... 
second day back to school for the bigger kids, Rosie begins on Monday. 

Mary was not around to be photo documented having left for school early. She is cheerleading and needed to meet with her cheer coach at 7:30 to go over some new moves for the game on Friday night. The idea of Mary (not our morning girl) cheering for anything at 7:30 in the morning is hard to imagine. (Will post fun cheerio photo of Mary in action later)
Anna starts classes today in North Carolina. My guess is that her roomie won't be sending me a "first day of school" photo from campus, but you never know. 
(a not so subtle hint aimed for Anna)

Funny enough, our youngers were happy to return to school... the first couple of days are always exciting.
Our Henry is so proud of being a first grader and takes his new grade/status very seriously.  
Lily has moved up to middle school and is ok with that. She recently read "The Smart Girls guide to Middle School" so she feels prepared.
Jamie is in the same class with his best friend...the happiest news ever for any third grader.

But little Rosie is stuck at home with her mom for the next week which makes her kind of blue. She longs for the excitement that only school can offer.

Goodbye kids...
I know that what Miss Rose really wanted to do was ditch Dad and her schnoodle...leap on the bus, and go with all of the more fun and interesting people in her family, but she needs to wait a bit. Her teachers are still taking their vitamins and getting ready for our tiny tornado.

Seven more days Rosie, and your preschool education begins- yay!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rosie's Pal.

Miss Rosie made a camp friend this summer... a sweet little pea named Yang Yang. 
Rosie and Yang Yang became good buddies in spite of the fact that Yang Yang speaks Chinese (Rosie does not) and like a lot of Americans, Rosie tends to GO LOUDER when she doesn't feel like she is being heard in exactly the way she hopes to be.
So my fear was that the adorable little Yang Yang will return to her home country of Taiwan with too many high volume memories of my little dear bossing her all over summertime.
And while bossiness is Rosie's strongest personality trait right now (we are hoping it's a stage) my hope was that Yang Yang's family might consider us (I mean the collective "us" of both our family and Americans in general) not to be a huge bunch of bossypants.
Although my Chinese is rather limited (read: nonexistent after ni hao) I knew that Yang Yang's family was really super kind and I was hoping to get to know them a bit better.

So...Rosie and I bought an "Instant Chinese" book and invited her cute friend and her family over for dinner.

And they graciously accepted.

Turns out "Instant Chinese" is more difficult then the book jacket suggests.

But Rosie persevered...
(not really...but she did pose for this photo, which is something)  

And she and Yang Yang had a blast... they laughed, played on the swing set and waved flags together.

It was a really wonderful evening for all of us, Yang Yang's family really seemed to enjoy themselves and I don't think we impressed them as being too weird or obnoxious. 
(Yay, for social successes!)
However, I think they found it pretty darn entertaining when I pulled out my "Instant Chinese" book to use as a reference.

Rosie is a lucky little girl to have such a sweet pal. 

At one point in the evening, the two of them were sitting in the double swing just yammering away. Rosie was doing most of the talking, but in a sing songy sort of way. I asked Yang Yang's mom if she was speaking Chinese... "No" was the answer... then she asked me if Yang Yang was speaking English.
I didn't think she was... It seemed more like Rosie and Yang Yang had come up with their own Chinese/English shorthand.
Later when I asked Rosie what they were talking about, she said 
"mostly pink stuff and baby cats."
I believe that pink baby cats might be the cornerstone of the language of three year old little girls worldwide. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lyle, Lyle Lovett.

Lyle Lovett came to town last night with his Large Band.

I agree with Lyle, his band is definitely large. And terrific.
He included five gospel singers in order to bring on even more soul (if that's even possible) so at times his show felt kind of church-y in all the right ways.
He opened with "Stand by Your Man," which was of course, completely lovely.
He also played my two favorite songs... "If I had a Boat" and "Here I Am."

There is something about his lyrics and his style that I just appreciate so much.

In fact, I am so crazy about that crooked haired, crooked grinned, oh so skinny singer songwriter that I have his portrait hanging in my living room, just to the left of the portraiture of our very own children

Here He Is...

photo by Michael Wilson

"Here I Am"

I'm the guy who sits next to you
And reads the newspaper over your shoulder
Don't turn the page
I'm not finished
Life is so uncertain

Lyle Lovett

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cooperative for Education

Soon after we adopted Jamie from Guatemala in 2003, Karl and I began looking for a way to do something positive for the children of our new favorite country. We were introduced to Cooperative for Education by it's founders, brothers Jeff and Joe Berninger after they spoke at a meeting for adoptive parents of Guatemalan kids.

When Karl was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, he was constantly drilled on the importance of   
 project sustainability.  Cooperative for Education, or CoEd, understands sustainability too, and is working hard and smart to break to cycle of poverty in Guatemala through education. They also offer the opportunity for regular folks to travel to Guatemala to inaugurate the projects and see firsthand, how students in rural Guatemala are benefiting from CoEd.  The travel tours are very well organized and absolutely a ton of fun.
Karl, Anna and Mary traveled with the tour last week and are still pretty wound up. Sometimes the girls are so overcome by a hysterical memory of some Guatemalan experience that they both crack up and can't seem to explain to poor old mom what's so funny.  I'm pretty sure that fits of laughter over just the memory of it all are a pretty good indication of a fun trip.
Anna and Mary in a classroom with the kids showing off their new school supplies.
Here is Mary with a young student...she was very impressed with his faux hawk. Apparently, there was a lot of hair product amongst many of the boys in class. 
The cool Guatemalan students consider it big fun to teach the gringos some traditional dance steps. This was a bit of a challenge for Karl and the girls as they prefer to dance wildly with their hands up and shaking their groove things- but they managed to temper their free style dance moves.
Anna got to dance with the dude in the suit!
I can tell by her look that she is just itching to bust out and let her groove loose... way to hold it together Anna!
Boogie fever!  I think it's coming around and around...
Got rainbow archway?
This was an entryway to one of the schools. I imagine that the night before they had all of the students blowing up balloons to create this masterpiece.
My daughters and their new young friends. 
A lovely woman named Sarah Celi who is a reporter for our local news was on the tour and was kind enough to teach my daughters many different and stylish ways to tie a fashion scarf. They learned a lot of important stuff on the tour.
Anna and Mary thanked the students for the warm welcome.
At the same school, the students made signs welcoming each of the tour participants. Karl thought it was cool that his name was misspelled as "Kart." 
My dear husband also won the tour superlative as "worst sport" as evidenced in this photo as he blocks the shot of the cute 7yr old during an impromptu basketball game. 
"Those guys hardly deserved to win and I had an EXTREME height advantage that I just couldn't waste..." he said of the game.
Way to crush the competition, Kart.

Here is the link to Cooperative for Education.
Please visit their site and take a look at all of the good works they are doing.

It's a top notch non profit run by a remarkable staff dedicated to the belief that education is a basic human right and is essential to the elimination of poverty.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Henry's new grin.

This is how Henry looked for most of the summer. 
He had two wiggly teeth on top and spent every free moment he had trying to work them out. 
I am certain that I told him to take his hand out of his mouth a thousand times a day.
As you can see he was not a subtle wiggler.

All of his hard work finally paid off this week when he lost two teeth in as many days. His first loss was pretty standard. He was brushing his choppers (yay, oral hygiene!) when his very, very loose tooth flicked out. The most exciting element to the event was that the tooth landed in the bathtub where Jamie was quick to grab it before it went down the drain. As Jamie put it... "Jamie to the tooth rescue!"

 The second tooth loss was more exciting. 
The very next day the boys were watching "Bare Hand Fishing"on Animal Planet and Henry, amazed by the practice of catfish noodlin'...went slackjawed. 
Jamie took advantage of Henry's open mouth, reached in, grabbed his remaining tooth and yanked it out in one fell swoop. 

I find it hard to believe that Henry was happy that his big brother yanked his tooth out when he wasn't paying attention, but he really was.

"I was so distracted, I didn't even feel the pain!" Henry happily exclaimed.
"I was a faster tooth yanker outer then the dentist!" said Jamie, proud of his new skill. 
Henry was quick to agree... "It all happened so fast, if anyone has any teeth they need to come out, they can just come over and watch a show with Jamie and that tooth will be outta there."

Monday, August 8, 2011

License to Drive

The good state of Ohio has officially decided that Mary is a qualified and capable driver and has given her a drivers license of her very own.
This has made Mary a very, very, happy sixteen year old girl.

 So happy, in fact, that she did not mind (too much) crawling through the not so well attended landscaping at the BMV so that I could photo document the occasion. 
"Ok, as long as you don't post this or anything..."
(Sorry, Mary... I'm afraid you owe me this one.)
The hot off the presses license that Mary is holding makes me at least as happy and delighted as she was in this photo... my smile was equally as wide.

I am so very relieved that my next oldest kid is ten, which gives me at least five and a half more years to rest and regroup before Lily needs to learn to make a left on red.

I can assure you from experience that there is no place more grim then the abandoned K-Mart on Ridge Rd, where traffic cones have been measured out and set up for student drivers to practice the much feared but necessary to pass, maneuverability exercise.

Especially at night, during the winter.

I saw a rat there once when Mary needed some space in the car and I watched her do the cones from the pavement instead of passenger side. The rat watched for a little bit too.
The rat seemed kind of happy that he wasn't me.
 Nope..I will definitely not miss those tension filled nights backing up through cones at the scary vacant K-Mart. 
 I congratulate and thank my dear daughter for passing the test and will remind her once again to be safe and keep her phone in the trunk and out of earshot while behind the wheel.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Let it Be

I got to see a real live Beatle last night.

Paul McCartney played the ballpark, and was completely, terrifically, amazing and Lily and I got to be there for it.

We were excited to bump into our pal Kim and her family.  
Kim took this photo of Lily and I as we waited for Sir Paul. We had very good seats, which was great for me, but didn't much matter for Lily.

This was her expression when Sir Paul bounced on stage.

 And this is why... this was the view from Lily's eye level.  
I forgot that when you are ten, every seat in the stadium is restricted view.

 But no matter.
Seconds later a beautiful thing happened.

Jumbotron booted up and there was Paul himself.
Giant Paul, 8 stories Tall Greatbig Paul.

Thank you Jumbotron, we love you.

Giant Jumbotron Paul sang to Lily and I (ok, and 41,500 others) for three hours straight. 
Not only did he sing, but he danced, and told really cool anecdotes. Who else could reminisce about John, and George and then drift into funny stories about Jimi (Hendrix) and Eric (Clapton)? 

Lily has been a Beatle-maniac since she was six. She knew almost all of his songs and was moved to rock out. Since she is ten, and not 13 or so, so she was not embarrassed in the least to dance with her frumpy ole' mom. 
She had a great time...she threw her hands up and did the peace-out sway as Paul adorably asked us to "Give Peace a Chance." Then she had the fabulous idea to booty- bump all of the way through "Ob-La-Da, Life, Goes On." 
Yep, my girl is one fun chica.  

There were some mellow moments too...
When Jumbotron Paul shifted over to his piano and played the first few bars of Let it Be, I lost it... its a beautiful song and Paul McCartney's giant Jumbotron head was singing... to me.
So I got emotional, so what.  
But then, a lovely thing happened, my cute girl scootched over to me and and let me hold her for the length of the song.  
And as the breeze blew back those 68 year old Jumbotron bangs I soaked it all in and was able to fully embrace the summertime moment of Paul McCartney singing "Let it Be,"to my girl and I under the stars.
Then I kind of ruined the moment (just a little bit) by imploring to Lily that she remember all of this, so I could get credit for being a good mom later on when I'll need it. Only she couldn't hear me very well due to the 41,500 whooping it up fans- so Miss Lily will associate the last few lines of Paul's "Let it Be" with me screaming at her to "...remember this, always remember this song and this night- ok, got it, can you hear me? got it!?" 
And then "Let it Be" was over and the next thing I know Sir Paul has launched into "Live and Let Die" and there are EXPLOSIONS and FIREWORKS and Paul is in the middle of it all screaming into the mic and working his historic and groovy Beatle boots like a teenager.

Lily couldn't help herself and leaped onto her chair to see the melee and we both screamed like girls.

And if the pyrotechnics weren't enough...

Our family loves the twangy uke sounds (we might be a smidge dorky) and so did George Harrison, (definitely, not dorky) who wrote "Something" with the ukulele. Paul spoke of George and played his song and it was pure awesomeness.

The man himself and his uber cool ukulele.

 The stadium was filled with Jumbotrons, so you could still watch giant Paul while you trekked to the ladies room.

I didn't realize that there was an official Wings hand gesture until Paul did the double hands "W" move, 
He said."...this one is for the Wings fans out there," before he played Band on the Run.
Of course, this move became a favorite of Lily's by the end of the night.

Here she is leaving the concert... "Wings!"

As we were walking to our car, we met this gentleman on the corner who was playing, guess what..."Let it Be." We listened and enjoyed, and I didn't tear up this time but it was still very good.
Mr Williams introduced himself to us and invited us to come hear him play sometime at the Blue
And so ends a very fun, very musical night with my favorite 10 yr old girl and my favorite Beatle.
My hope is that Lily does always remember it just as perfectly as I will.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not Sharing.

If you loved someone this much, it would be really tough to share.

Anna helped out in Rosie's Sunday school class the other morning. 
 When I asked Anna if Rosie behaved herself, she reported that she was pretty good but she got angry  when Anna needed to comfort a little girl who was missing her mommy.
When Anna scooped the upset little girl into her lap, Rosie gave her a dirty look and said...
"She is NOT your big sister...."
As in back off little girl, Anna is MINE, and I'm not sharing her.
I'm not sure how Anna juggled both little girls, but my guess is that Rosie won the battle for Anna's affections. In turn, Anna absolutely delights in the fact that Rosie will happily fight a class full of 3 year olds to be the one who gets to sit in her lap.

This photo was taken the day that Anna came home from college for the summer. 
In about three weeks summer will be over and Anna will return to school.
And Rosie will miss her.